Resisting the Objectification of the Human Body in Media

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Video Presentation Outline

I. Introduction
II. The Destructive Force of Pornographic Images
III. The Destructive Force of Self-Hatred and Shame
IV. Identity and the Digital Self

Discussion Guide

Discuss any major takeaways or memorable moments from this teaching session. Did you learn anything new? Was anything particularly challenging? How would you summarize this presentation to a non-Christian friend?

1. Biblical Foundations
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matt. 5:27–29)

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:2–3)

The sin of lust is treated very seriously in the Bible, as is the failure to recognize Jesus’ first advent in the incarnation. What connection does the severity of these offenses have to the goodness of God’s creation? How do they deny or denigrate it?

2. Theological Foundations
The incarnation is God’s great testament to the holiness of the body; we are all designed to be icons of the incarnation. Pornography is the most widespread example of the dis­incarnation of the human, by turning the body into an icon of lust rather than of Christ. That is idolatry, rather than image-bearing.

The misappropriation of a person’s image in pornography and other popular media makes a strong theological statement. The same could be said of popular use of social (or digital) media. How can pornography and social media (mis)shape how we view others who are created in the image of God? Discuss both the benefits and drawbacks of digital media. Have you ever considered how digital media can both feed and shape your desires?

3. Practical Implications
“You don’t log on to Facebook to connect with a friend when you could just as easily call him or shoot him a text. You don’t log on to find an article you’ve been meaning to read when you could just as easily go and find that specific article yourself using a service or a platform that’s designed to do that. You log on to Facebook to be on Facebook. The attention arbitrage market itself becomes the destination.” (source)

Do you have to go out of your way to participate in disincarnating digital experiences? Do you have uninterrupted time of work, family, worship, community, and positive leisure? Where do you see digital media encroaching in on this space? Do you consider yourself powerless or empowered to interrupt this advance?

Read the Seven Building Blocks for a Theology of the Body here.

This is an excerpt from Timothy Tennent’s new book, For the Body Video Study Guide. Through these pages, you will:

  • Understand why our bodies matter on a host of issues
  • Discover a positive vision for human sexuality
  • Be equipped to live & engage culture from a biblical perspective

Tennent explores the contours of a robust Christian vision of the body and human sexuality and the variety of different ways we are called into relationships with others. This book is a call to a deeper understanding of our body and an invitation to recapture the wonder of this amazing gift. It is a theological vision that informs our self-understanding, how we treat others, and how we engage today’s controversial and difficult discussions on human sexuality with grace, wisdom, and confidence.

Get it from our store here

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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